Michael Andretti closed a call earlier in the week with an obvious overstatement.
“We’ve got to get a win,” he told RACER. “It’s been a horrible year for us, so we’ve got to get our act together. We’ll see what happens this weekend.”
It’s safe to assume the same message was delivered to his five-car team after a season filed with nine straight races where winning felt like a distant dream. After Alexander Rossi’s helpful podium on Saturday during the first of two Honda Indy 200 doubleheaders, Andretti’s wishes came true as Colton Herta (pictured at left, above, with Rossi) turned pole position into an unchallenged win with Rossi and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay in tow to sweep the podium in Round 2.
Considering how bad 2020 has been on race day for the Honda-powered outfit, the massive swing of fortunes by owning all phases of the Sunday race was a fitting response to a season filled with disappointments.
“It’s so huge,” Andretti said. “Thank God that we came here to Mid-Ohio. We were a little worried we weren’t going to be able to get there; (race promoter) Kevin Savoree and those guys did a nice job of getting the race on. and it paid off for us. One, two, three. After the way things have been going this year, this is huge for us, the whole team.”
The podium of Herta, Rossi, and Hunter-Reay follows the last instance for the team — known as Andretti Green Racing — 15 years ago where Dan Wheldon won, Tony Kanaan was second and Dario Franchitti took third for AGR at St. Petersburg.
“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael, and it’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally,” he said. “To sweep the podium for the first time since 2005 is very cool.”
With his win, Herta improved from fifth to fourth in the championship, Hunter-Reay moved from 11th to ninth, and Rossi, whose year has been largely forgettable, vaulted from 18th in the standings to 12th with the pair of Mid-Ohio podiums.